The Bengals defensive line is really good.
The Bengals are in the top 3 for sacks this season and this is largely because of the play of the Bengals defensive line. The front 4 for the Bengals have generated 42 of the teams 51 sacks (that alone is better than 25 other NFL teams). This means the Bengals are able to generate a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks without fancy blitzes. This allows the linebackers the space to roam and stop the run. Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are going to give Matt Shaub fits on Saturday.
The rest of the Bengals defense is pretty good too.
In the last 8 games the Bengals have gone 7 and 1. They have allowed an average of 12.8 points per game and their one loss was by a point. This streak includes beating the Giants, Steelers and Ravens. In the last 3 games (Eagles, Steelers, Ravens) the defense has 9 turnovers, nine sacks and 3 touchdowns. The Bengals top tackler is Vontaze Burfict who was an undrafted free agent and is having an amazing season.
The Bengals special teams is a game changer.
Losing Mike Nugent to injury was tough for Bengals fans, but the blow was softened when Josh Brown came in and made a long clutch kick to start his Bengals career. Follow that with the field changing punting by Kevin Huber and the outstanding play of the Bengals coverage teams, the Bengals should dominate this third phase of the game. Kevin Huber has routinely placed punts inside the opponents 20 and also boasts a 69 yd punt this season. When you can’t score on every drive, it helps to have a guy that can flip the field for you.
Even though this is the same matchup as last seasons first round playoff, the two teams involved are heading in separate directions. I look for the Bengals to not only cover the spread but win the game outright. My score prediction is Bengals 27 Houston 17.